Vintage and thrift shopping grows in popularity among students

Surrounded by a menagerie of goods ready to be consumed today and discarded tomorrow, students nevertheless are turning to Salvation Armies and local vintage shops. With growing concern over the ethics of the fashion industry, some are motivated by morals. Others cite the importance of cost efficiency or of being environmentally conscious Most are in it for all of the above.
Scheller frequents the Salvation Army in Plainwell, flocking with friends to the infamous Dollar Day each time it arrives.“I feel better about myself because I’m not giving into consumerism, and I’m saving money,” senior Emma Scheller said. “A lot of the clothes I buy are made in America and stuff so it feels good to not go out and just spend a ton of money on stuff that is essentially disposable.”

“I think college is really expensive and we’re all realizing that if we don’t pay for college we’re gonna be really poor-so yeah, we have to save our money and count our pennies,” Scheller said.

Jayne Gulliver, owner of J-Bird Vintage at 511 W. Vine Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, agrees.

“I think it goes back to that thing where people want to be unique, and they want to have their own style, and it’s a way to stand out and be able to do that without having to spend a lot of money on something brand new,” Gulliver said on the draw of vintage shopping.

Gulliver opened J-Bird with the mission of providing affordable, unique and high-quality vintage items.

“I think for one, it’s one of a kind, so you’re going to have your own style-and that’s really fun,” Gulliver said. “Two, I think the clothes are made better than they are today. For example, I was reading that clothes today are made to last about two years where back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, they were made to last a lifetime. So when you find something, even if it’s old, and it’s from the 50s, it’s tailored really well and it probably has a lot of life left in it.”

Having grown up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Gulliver was eager for her business to join the Vine community.

“I’ve always liked shopping vintage, even when I was young, also I really wanted to do something in this neighborhood-the Vine neighborhood, because there are some great restaurants, there are really interesting people, and I thought I would like to be a part of that,” Gulliver said.

“I think it’s that idea too of repurposing, people are more aware of that,” Gulliver said. “And I think a lot of people appreciate the story behind a piece of vintage. I mean, you’re sort of continuing the story of, let’s say, a beautiful dress or a great pantsuit, and you get to just continue that.”

Ultimately, to Gulliver and many avid thrifters, the experience is about continuing and sharing stories.

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